Should schools walk or run into the digital era?

computer (Medium)In every district, in every school, in every grade, there is that great teacher who all parents want for their children. So, parents cross their fingers that their child is among the lucky ones to end up on that teacher’s roster.

What if that terrific teacher could reach two, three or even five times as many students?

That is one of the promises of online learning, said Bryan Hassel, co-director of Public Impact and a speaker at today’s webcasted Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s panel on Education Reform for a Digital Era.

Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.

Education can enlarge the classroom of the teachers achieving the best results with their students and pay them more for doing so by multiplying their reach through technology, said Hassel.

Relieve those great teachers of non-instructional tasks and use video to reach more students and smart software to personalize instruction.

While the panelists disagreed on when and how digital learning should be introduced into schools, all agreed that online education represents the future.

“There is a lot of hope and a lot of hype. We have yet to see too many programs in practice live up to their promise,’’ said the moderator Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Fordham Institute. “To get it right, we need a much more fundamental and compelling school reform agenda than we’ve got today.”

Today, there is one computer for every three students across all k-12 schools. There is connectivity. There is hardware. Yet, of 55 million students total, it’s estimated that fewer than a million have taken an online course.

Most schools function like they always have — a single teacher overseeing a classroom with, on average, 23 students. That’s in contrast with every other industry in the country where technology plays a larger and larger role in how work is done.

“Technology is inevitable,” said John Chubb, distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a founder of EdisonLearning. “We can’t put our fingers in the dikes and stop technology from coming.”

The role of skeptic on the panel was assigned to Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein, author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30.”

Bauerlein outlined several obstacles that caused initiatives including statewide laptop programs to stumble, such as 50-year-old teachers who didn’t get on board or a lack of schoolwide coordination.

But the toughest challenges come from students who regard technologies as social tools and resist their conversion to academic learning tools. “These tools have intense social meaning for them. They are largely mediums of peer pressures, peer absorption, peer fixation and peer topics  — coming into their lives 24 hours a day,” he said.

“Try to control that classroom with 25 laptops open and keep students from drifting into social habits,’’ Bauerlein said.

If technology became as integral to the academic lives of students as it has to their social lives, Chubb said, “This imbalance that clearly exists now would begin to change. There is not the option of keeping technology out. The challenge for educators is how to make technology work for schools. Or schools will become, in the eyes of students, irrelevant.”

Now, teachers confront classrooms with a wide range of abilities, students struggling to read even simple books and others breezing through “The Hunger Games” series. “Digital learning allows students to learn at their own level…to customize instruction,” Chubb said.

Under rigid rules on teacher pay and class size, Hassel said there aren’t strong incentives now for teachers to embrace technology or become involved in shaping it. “There is no way they can use it to leverage their time. But if they can use technology in time-saving ways and take on more students and earn more, they will become active shoppers and become a driver of quality.”

That research suggests digital learning is not being done very well yet doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved, Chubb said.

“If we wait for definitive evidence that this new model works better than the old model, we will never get there,” said Chubb.

“What we want is to give educators, principals, school districts and charter school heads more flexibility and more incentive to try to figure out how to adopt technology. This is not something policy makers will figure out. Educators will figure out.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

100 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Mom

April 19th, 2012
8:13 pm

“If we wait for definitive evidence that this new model works better than the old model, we will never get there,” said Chubb.”
One more experiment on our children. What’s wrong with waiting for definitive evidence?

Hillbilly D

April 19th, 2012
8:20 pm

Rather than reaching only 25 students a year, what if that terrific teacher could reach 200 or 250?

That goes against the argument for smaller class sizes. You can’t have it both ways.

Atlanta Media Guy

April 19th, 2012
8:32 pm

In DeKalb we ran into the digital era and never looked back, wasting millions of dollars. We all know who ran MIS during the glory days of money growing on trees. All that money on technology and all we got were worse scores and a division of DCSD that hired many friends and family.

I think moving into the digital era would be good for students, but we need to make sure we’re not throwing good money away, like we have in DeKalb for years. Plus, what good is new technology if the a system doesn’t train and hire people who know how to install/operate/update it?

Mikey D

April 19th, 2012
8:38 pm

Part of what makes great teachers great is embedded in their interpersonal skills and the way they interact with their students and make them feel special and important. It’s doubtful that these intangibles would translate through a video being broadcast through a projector. Online learning would probably be a great thing for those students who are instinsically motivated to learn, but what about the students who have no desire to learn or improve themselves under the current system. Do you really think they’re going to thrive with less teacher interaction?

I hope that this push for online learning isn’t going to be the legislature’s newest “silver bullet” that will magically cure the ills of public education. Until we get some true leaders who recognize that there are no simple solutions, from the local level all the way to the feds, then true improvement will continue to elude us. Our “leaders” at all levels are a bad joke.

Attentive Parent

April 19th, 2012
8:46 pm

So we have the accreditors, SACS, insisting schools should not be lecturing in their Quality Standards. We have Fulton paying big bucks to Cambridge Education for so-called Quality Reviews where the report says “the teachers are teaching and the children are learning and this has to stop”. Nice thing to tell the teachers with exams coming up.

But then when it’s time to push visual, I mean digital learning, which most kids will process much like TV, all of a sudden we use the great lecturer model to sell it. Heard Bob Wise say this and I wondered if the right hand knew what the rest of the ed pitch was saying.

Digital learning is a tool and important for kids who have a lack of familiarity.

But mostly it’s the Crony Capitalism boondoggle of all time to the tech companies. They get to be the preferred govt vendor for all that E-SPLOST money. Hundreds of millions of your dollars taxpayers.

And nobody took you out for a nice dinner to say thanks for the contract.

Ron F.

April 19th, 2012
8:53 pm

I’ve seen how technology definitely gets kids engaged and interested. It takes a lot of planning and careful supervision, but I think with time kids will come to see the technology as more than a social diversion. They’ll have to as the pace of technology growth increases. It’s like any tool we have in education- it’s all in how you use it. Interactive lessons with ipads within a classroom,or something like that, could be very engaging, but kids still need some time with a good old book in their hands. The downside is the money, and technology has lots of costs connected to it. It seems like it could become another money drain in an already cash-strapped system! I don’t think the idea of distance learning for kids under 18 is the way to go. Talk about boring!

Ron F.

April 19th, 2012
8:57 pm

I say walk into it….very, very carefully. Of course, somebody smelling money and looking for a way to make themselves look good will sell an idea to a bunch of unsuspecting, gullible decision makers who have no idea what a classroom looks like, let alone how to teach. We’ll get a crash course and be expected to instantly implement said wonder program, and then the cash will run out, the technology will need updating or repair, or half the sites will crash…it’s never as easy as they say!

ScienceTeacher671

April 19th, 2012
8:59 pm

Mikey D is correct – part of it is the interaction. You can teach the exact same content to 5 classes a day, and you can try to do it exactly the same way, but it’s not going to be the same twice in a row because the classes are different, and even the interpersonal dynamics with the students are different.

One class will understand the content with the first example, and start asking advanced questions you didn’t think you’d get to cover until tomorrow, but that great teacher will see that little Johnny in the back is still confused, and make sure to add something to ensure that he understands, too.

The next class may need several examples, and your jokes might fall flat in that class too.

Does Hassell suggest taping the lecture so that 250+ students can watch it at once? Will this be a podcast, or will this be a live webcast allowing questions and answers? How many questions can one teacher answer at once?

ScienceTeacher671

April 19th, 2012
9:03 pm

Study the “one laptop per child” initiatives – a lot of those have failed because money wasn’t allotted to repair, replace or update the technology, or everyone couldn’t do the project because Jane’s laptop was in for repairs and Timmy left his at home. In some cases, the parents sold the laptops & reported them stolen, or the students just didn’t take good care of them and they broke.

And then there were the problems with students browsing the web or IMing each other instead of doing the lesson…

Sal

April 19th, 2012
9:10 pm

“Today, teachers enter classrooms with students far below grade level, on class level and hungry for acceleration.”

WHAT does this even mean??? Hope technology wasn’t involved in composing this sentence. If so, we’re all doomed…

ScienceTeacher671

April 19th, 2012
9:10 pm

It seems to me that Apple’s “Classrooms of Tomorrow” digital education projects date back to the 1980s…and I know that Larry Cuban published “Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom” over a decade ago.

Tom

April 19th, 2012
9:21 pm

I am the high school teacher parents want for their kids. I am successful because I build relationships with all my students. I get to know them, their dreams, their limitations, and their strengths. I encourage them while I help them begin to figure out who they are. I find strategies to help them overcome their deficits. I can monitor each child’s progress.

This cannot be duplicated nor broadcast. Education cannot be mass produced.

You would never attempt to replicate the work of great surgeons, lawyers or psychologists in such a manner.

The fact that those who make decisions about public education are even considering such an idea demonstrates their failure to grasp the most fundamental elements of how classrooms work.

Children are not lumps of clay, uniform in composition, that can be massed produced.

Old timer

April 19th, 2012
9:24 pm

I say walk..many schools and plans are not good.

catlady

April 19th, 2012
9:48 pm

Mikey, SciTch, and Tom have pointed it out–great teachers MAKE A CONNECTION WITH THEIR STUDENTS.

Remember the experiment with the baby monkeys that were not held or stroked? Or the babies from Russian orphanages? They ended up stunted physically, and acting like they were mentally retarded. So many of our children are like those orphans. The folks at school are the main ones who give them smiles, pleasant words, and encouragement each day (not to mention models of correct interpersonal behavior).

Of course “some people” will make a lot of money. And some legislators will pat themselves on the back for “saving” money in this way. The problem is, the kids need more.

I know: Since charter schools are so great, let’s just video those teachers and let the kids in the “regular” schools watch them!

MannyT

April 19th, 2012
10:41 pm

Yes, schools should RUN into the bright parts of educational technology, WALK into the shaded areas to understand what is there & how it can be useful, while STAYING AWAY from the dark crevices.

RUN–Use technology that they can assimilate with little training. Example: Teachers can update HS activities using skills they probably developed outside the classroom. Using text or email messages to send clues for a real or virtual scavenger hunt to students. Thelearning is similar w/o technology, but the new tools allow them to do old things in new ways w/o much need for training.

WALK–Into useful, cost effective ideas that will change the way you do things where the adjustments are gradual, but growing. Example–Trade out text books for ereaders in HS & MS. The retail price of a wifi enabled ereader (Kindle/Nook) is close to the price of one high end lost book. Let’s trade out of hardcopy book expense and invest that money in letting everyone use a Nook (or equivalent.) The school systems should get some discount on the license rate over the book cost. You don’t really lose or damage licenses. They hold up to wear & tear better than the books. If the student loses/breaks the device, they have to pay for it the same as they would with a book. You pay for the techies that manage the licenses with the cost savings of cutting back on book warehousing, distribution & related staff.

On the upside, less wear & tear on the students. Less likely that the book gets lost as they only have to keep up with one thing. Less likley to have trouble from other students because they have the same device that you do. Teachers can teach about the same way relative to the books, BUT the interested, can use the wifi to enhance lessons as everyone potentially has a link to school approved sites to research & learn as we go.

Distance learning fits here. It is a good option for special circumstances. It is not the right answer in all cases. Good teacher in the classroom beats, good teacher covering 200 students from remote location. However, good teach for unique class remotely beats no unique class.

STAY AWAY from things that no one really understands that would require major investments in training for the teachers to understand how to use it. There are not that many staff development hours available these days. Taking a year to ramp up on a new technology is probably a bad idea if the start up costs are much above zero.

Embrace the easy wins. Leave the hard tech to real tech classes like computer science. Technology for educators should be like sauces & spices for chefs. Knowing how to use a few well can take you much farther than knowing very little about all of the options.

Tech Prof

April 19th, 2012
10:57 pm

I teach all online, all the time. I do not lecture. I interact frequently with my students via email and class discussions. I build a good relationship with some students. I create challenging, authentic assignments that take the students a long time to complete. Some assignments involve group collaboration and some are done individually. I spend a lot of time grading and providing individual feedback. I cannot do my classes this way with hundreds of students enrolled in them. Online instruction can be done well, but not with hundreds of students per class. The lecture method is not really that good in a face-to-face class. Why would we want to duplicate it in an online environment?

Guide on the Side? Sage on the Stage?

April 19th, 2012
11:19 pm

I’m not anti-technology at all – I use it frequently with my students – I am lucky enough to have some class computers and a smart board – we use online tutoring, sites like Khan Academy, and have a class wiki (I’m currently working on implementing aspects of a flipped class, for those familiar with that).

That being said, this video idea sounds more like simple lecturing – the “Sage on the Stage” rather than any kind of meaningful engagement – the “Guide on the Side.” It immediately tells me that this person proposing likely hasn’t been in an elementary or middle school classroom in a long time…maybe a HS AP class would be successful with this model, but I don’t know.

Before the haters start calling me a union shill who doesn’t want meaningful reform (LOL on that – don’t even belong to anything), I’m not saying there isn’t a place for good video instruction. The flipped class is somewhat of a hybrid model, and great teachers making the videos would be fabulous. However, this is no magic bullet. It’s not.

William Casey

April 20th, 2012
1:16 am

ScienceTeacher671 has pointed out most of the problems related to technology in schools.The magic of learning is in that face-to-face “ah-ha” moment. I think that hi-tech would be most useful for review. I don’t really trust schools to manage investment in technology wisely.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 20th, 2012
3:14 am

MannyT,

KUDOS!

Well-thought and -stated.

Well worth reading, thinking about and acting upon.

Please send your piece to John Barge at the GA Department of Education.

Online Teacher

April 20th, 2012
5:44 am

I have taught online and for the vast majority of students, it is not a good idea.

Two years ago, the French teacher at my local HS retired, forcing a good number of students who needed French II into Georgia Virtual School.

Out of 30, two (2) passed the course – with a 70. Why?

There is real accountability on the part of the student. They are expected to do assignments, turn them in – on time and if not, are docked points. None of the students would turn in their work on time, or bother to do it. Couple this to the fact the course was taught the way the standards dictate it should be taught and you have recipe for failure.

Oh, and since there is not a principal breathing down the necks of the teachers to pass everyone because of AYP and they answer to the State DoE, the teachers can and do teach.

Also, another student was taking an advanced math course, a straight A student, who squeeked a 70 out of a course for the same reason – he would not turn in work due on Monday until Friday and could not understand why he would only get 50% credit. All of his other teachers would give him credit for his work, why not the virtual ones?

So yes, push kids to onliine work, give them vouchers for online schools. Question why they fail miserably in online but pass in face to face.

Ridiculous Idea

April 20th, 2012
6:40 am

The reason good teachers are good teachers is because they can recognize a look of puzzlement on a child’s face, zoom in, and offer a different method of teaching a concept.
A good teacher is a good teacher because she gets up out of her chair and helps the children learn.
A good teacher is a good teacher because she is a human being with compassion….
…..and all those things require the student to be physically there.
This horrible idea is made by someone wanting to
A: sell computer equipment
B: slash a budget without regard to the real needs of children.
The NUMBER ONE factor in a child
s ability to learn is the human being standing in front of them. She’s called a teacher and you cannot replace her wiht a live meeting, a recording, or a dam& computer.
Good Mother

Top Tier Teachers

April 20th, 2012
6:44 am

Listen to this fact : “Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.”

So the SOLUTION is to hire TOP TIER teachers, not buy computer equipment.

What a bozo Hassel is. His idea is the same thing as saying “Only 25 percent of cars on the road are safe to drive so we are going to take away all the other 75 percent of the cars away from the drivers who need to go somewhere and give them a pair of stilts to walk on instead…”

Stupid thinking.
Hassel needs to go.
Good Mother

Mountain Man

April 20th, 2012
7:29 am

Mikey D. – You are absolutely correct that the skills of the best teachers lies only in the way they deliver a lecture.

Mountain Man

April 20th, 2012
7:30 am

do not lie in the way they deliver a lecture.

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
7:57 am

“Hassel said that only about 25 percent of classes have one of these top-tier teachers at a given time. That means the other 75 percent don’t.:

Can Mr. Hassel support that statement with more than one research study?

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
7:57 am

“Most schools function like they always have — a single teacher overseeing a classroom with, on average, 23 students. That’s in contrast with every other industry in the country where technology plays a larger and larger role in how work is done.”

While I’m may not be podcasting to 100+ students, please do not assume technology is not playing a role in my classroom.

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
7:58 am

“Under rigid rules on teacher pay and class size, Hassel said there aren’t strong incentives now for teachers to embrace technology or become involved in shaping it.”

“Rigid rules on teacher pay?” Seriously? In other words…Mr. Hassel wants to force teachers into “embracing” technology by making their pay dependent on implementation and firing those who drag their feet on using technology in the classroom.

Whether or not their current method of instruction is effective is obviously irrelevant to Mr. Hassel.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
8:01 am

catlady-much of the emphasis on charter schools, and districts at least in the case of Fulton, appears to be driven by getting a governing legal document in place that is poorly understood by the parents and taxpayers. They assume charters provide superior control. The boards know what they specified they wanted. The documents I have read all contain terms that have terms that are 180 degrees from what most parents think they would mean.

Much like the Georgia legislature in passing statutes on education based on what the lobbyists say they mean. Guess which governs?

It’s a bit like when Arne Duncan’s rhetoric clashes with the language of the fed DoEd’s regulations.

Maybe I should write an Attentive Parent Glossary of Terms.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
8:02 am

Have meanings.

Warning-do not start writing before morning cup.

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
8:07 am

I recognize that technology is here to stay and should be integrated into classroom instruction. I get that part.

However, am I the only one that isn’t the least bit concerned that we seem to be hell bent on eliminating the “human” element from our children’s lives?

We already have a generation that is more comfortable with texting than actual conversation. More comfortable “watching” a YouTube video than participating in a Socratic seminar.

Anyone concerned with the attention span of this generation? Anyone concerned with the ability of this generation to stick to a task without checking facebook, twitter, or text messages every 10-15 minutes.

Stand back and watch this generation. Watch how long they can last without pulling out the phone. Is this really a “good” thing?

Balance is a good thing. Learning to use appropriate technology is important. However, we should proceed with caution before we throw out solid pedagogy to make room for the latest fad.

William Casey

April 20th, 2012
8:16 am

@TEACHER&MOM: Amen!

My Two Cents

April 20th, 2012
8:56 am

When will these nitwits step back and realize some of what makes these teachers amazing is that they are engaging, in person, with face-to-face with their students, and every second of the day absorbing both verbal and nonverbal feedback to reach those students?

I’m not knocking online altogether, but simply taking “that teacher” and putting him or her in an online forum does not make an amazing class.

Richard

April 20th, 2012
9:51 am

Anytime you ask an organizational behavior question the answer is “it depends.” That’s the case 100% of the time. Now exceptions.

In this case, it completely depends on the student’s response to online learning.

Teacher, Too

April 20th, 2012
10:04 am

Tip-toe into technology, especially in using on-line/distance learning. This may be a good idea for college students, but certainly not for middle or high school students (at least, not the majority of high school students).

It takes a certain amount of intrinsic motivation to focus on the lectures, follow-through and submit assignments on time, and then study and take the tests and pass! This is difficult for college students and adults– how will this apply to high school students? Perhaps a small percentage of high school students are equipped to handle this level of academic freeedom. Most students need the structure of the classroom.

When I was deciding on a graduate school, I knew I needed to attend actual classes. On-line/distance learning was not for me. I needed the accountability of attending classes, making sure I had my reading assignments completed, and my research papers ready to hand in. Plus, I needed the human contact of being with other students and my professors.

Personally, I believe all this technology fosters isolation. Kids (and adults, for that matter) no longer know how to converse with each other. Go to a restaurant, and you see people texting and talking on their cell phones to other people, ignoring the ones sitting at the table. Kids are relating through IM and text– and it reflects in how they interact with one another. In teaching for twenty-two years, I have noticed that writing skills and sustained attention have diminished in the students I have taught. Not to mention, grammar skills across all ages have declined dramatically. Just watch the news, listen to the radio, or read any of the blogs (Sidenote: I know that blogs are for instant responses– but can one not proofread before hitting send? I’m not talking about typos, but significant grammatical errors!).

I’m currently having this conversation with my students this week. Ray Bradbury was correct in fearing too much technology. Not only has it dumbed us down, but it isolates us as well.

bu2

April 20th, 2012
10:19 am

Only 25% have top tier teachers
There was a magazine article about a data analysis company that does work around the country, including for the Fulton and Gwinnet Schools. “Results in 4 of 5 districts found that novice teachers were regularly placed with low-performing students.” “It’s well-understood anecdotally, but after we show them the data, it has been a bit of a show-stopper….why would you disproportionately place novice teachers with low-performing students?”

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:36 am

“Maybe I should write an Attentive Parent Glossary of Terms”

I wish someone would before we jump off the high dive into the charter pool. The water’s a little too cloudy for me!

Teacher too: I was just the opposite. The online class format was perfect for me. I had time to be the single parent AND college student without the two overlapping much. That motivated me to participate and I was actually pleased with the amount of interaction required. It was nice not to have to drive to Atlanta and pay parking, gas, etc. It all depends on learning style, and I’m not convinced technology has enough variety and skill to meet all the styles out there. No matter what anyone says, there will always be a need for face-to-face interaction.

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:40 am

“why would you disproportionately place novice teachers with low-performing students?”

bu2- I’ve been asking that question for years!! Some teachers see it as a rite of passage to work your way out of those classes. There aren’t enough veterans out there willing to work with the low-performing kids. It’s exhausting, rewarding, demanding work and it burns you out if you’re not careful. I think the solution is to train teachers specifically for that crowd and give them lots of support and incentive to stay. Until we address the turn over rate with low-performing groups, we’ll never get a solid base of teachers to deal with them.

Teacher, Too

April 20th, 2012
10:45 am

Ron F: That’s why I think on-line/distance learning is appropriate for college students/adults. I’m not sure that many or most high school students are that disciplined yet. Definitely some high school students could handle that responsibility, but I think most students need the accountability of attending class. We have enough problems with student absenteeism…and those students rarely make up their work when they are absent without being constantly reminded.

One other thought– with all the technology that is in place (on-line grade books, blogs, ect.), you would think that students would take advantage of that technology, yet few do. It doesn’t matter if I post my notes to the blog or that I post the daily agenda of what was covered in class that day…students still ask, “What did I miss yesterday?”

My response, “Did you check the blog?”

Student response, “No.”

Even though they have internet access, my students rarely take advantage of the academic uses of technology.

Jack

April 20th, 2012
10:46 am

Technology should augment teaching; not replace it.

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
10:50 am

Teacher too: it’s going to take some time to change kids’ view of technology. Until the mature some, they see it more as entertainment than learning tool. Isn’t it funny how the parents want things posted online that the kids won’t even look up? I know some teachers who have actually set up class Facebook pages. Now there’s a site the kids will be sure to visit! :-)

Up until recently, we weren’t really talking about how kids understand and use technology at school and the whole social diversion problem. I think the fact that we’re talking about it now may help us in the long run. But it is going to take time to get kids, because of their maturity, to see technology (especially websites) as important learning tools.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
10:51 am

bu2:

Why would veteran teachers want the challenges and frustrations of low-performing populations? It is a lot of work, with no financial incentive and very little recognition. Add to that lack of continuous parent support, administrative burdens, and testing mania the fact that people are still willing to do it is a testimony to tenacity.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
10:55 am

Ron F.

Teach for America is essentially doing that. But their turnover rate is high after their contract is up. Or they want to go into administration.

To address turnover rates with teacher in low-performing groups, the communities that comprise those groups will need to be evaluated. It is human nature to want to be valued and appreciated for your work, and after speaking to teachers in those settings I think many of them don’t feel that.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:02 am

Schools should SPRINT, not run or walk into the digital era. The world has changed since the digital revolution, all except our nation’s classrooms. With Georgia having less than 50 qualified high school physics teachers (maybe that number has risen slightly – my data is a couple of years old), online learning gives every student access to qualified teachers, especially in school districts where these teachers are missing.

yuzeyurbrane

April 20th, 2012
11:07 am

We should pause before we too quickly bow down before the altar of technology. I have read some articles that suggest that internet learning methods are not as effective as traditional ones. We should experiment and carefully evaluate before rushing headlong into unknown territory. To do this we, as Americans, have to resist our strong cultural bias supporting technology as the answer to everything.

NONPC

April 20th, 2012
11:12 am

I haven’t read the article or the replies. Nonetheless, here goes:

Schools should walk into the digital era.
For the most part, K-12 does not need the internet. Math, English, Science, History, Political Science can all be taught without the internet at all! But since students will need the internet throughout life, exposure to the internet is necessary to learn how to research papers, how to use basic computer tools, how to type, etc. These are necessary college skills as well as life skills.

Recognizing that computers/internet is not a differentiating factor in performance of students in core curriculum, they should be put on the back burner. Focus should be placed where it belongs: in classroom teaching of the basics.

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
11:16 am

@Being Censored: Isn’t that the purpose of GA Virtual?

Eric

April 20th, 2012
11:44 am

“Technology is inevitable,” said John Chubb, distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a founder of EdisonLearning. “We can’t put our fingers in the dikes and stop technology from coming.”

No, technology need not be inevitable. It can and should be resisted. Technology expansion is out of control and an unnecessary expense. And since when does technology save time? It INCREASES the level of exchanges and becomes a never-ending labyrinth. I’m sorry, but asking a teacher to teach 100 students is asking too much! Kids need personal interaction, not virtual learning. Why do policy makers think this is so wonderful? I’m not convinced we need to continue rushing in this direction.

Tonya C.

April 20th, 2012
11:47 am

On the topic at hand, I think there should be a focus on integration–not replacement. But I can see this being used as a substitute for quality teaching because the people in charge want to integrate on the cheap.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:48 am

I would have you all take a look at a study that the Dept of Education conducted a few years ago. In the report, it stated “Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction”. We are not talking about virtual schooling, teacher&mom – we’re talking about “blended learning.” Everyone likes to think of these new inventions in the EXTREME. Blending learning plus parental engagement equals successful learning.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:50 am

And Eric, I must add one more thing, since it relates to a book I am writing. There is something called moderation, and if you don’t want your children to be vulnerable to deviant behavior, then you better not withhold technology from them completely. Baby steps, but give them some rope and the rope gets longer as they demonstrate responsible behavior.

Eric

April 20th, 2012
11:51 am

@Teacher, Too is correct–online learning fosters isolation not community. What’s the point of everyone becoming “intellectual” just to be by themselves? Online misses the important social interaction, learning to listen to one another, and empathy that comes from a real classroom that fosters civil and caring communities. Online learning is the ultimate in my-me-mine worldview.

Being Censored by @Maureen

April 20th, 2012
11:59 am

Eric, have you ever done any online learning? Have you ever observed children interact with technology? I think you’re misinformed.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
12:01 pm

Ron-I would agree that technology is a learning tool. When using technology becomes the focus of the classroom in the academic subjects, the school has become vocational. Academic course names cannot obscure that fundamental fact.

Linda Darling-Hammond regularly writes that access to information is enough now to constitute cognitive coursework. Students do not actually need the facts in their brain. She is quite wrong but her views completely dominate the actual implementation of Common Core.

Also Georgia’s performance standards treat media and digital literacy as just as important as print literacy. Also wrong but the technology spending boondoggle dovetails with the career pathways boondoggle the state DOE is also setting up. Now which businesses are being asked to participate in those public-private partnerships? Between the digital learning emphasis and the mandated career pathways for all and other troubling initiatives, how much academic content or transmission of knowledge will remain in Georgia’s high schools under Common Core?

How will that affect the USG coursework? Probably a good thing Georgia created the concept of P-16 and now talks in terms of P-20. All consolidated under one Vice Chancellor who can ensure very one wanting a credential in Georgia just keeps being a revenue source for education in Georgia for many years on end.

Actual marketable knowledge and skills?

tchr

April 20th, 2012
12:01 pm

I’m sure someone already mentioned this but what teacher teaches 25 students a year? How does that sentence even remotely resemble reality? Are there really people who think teachers only teach 25 students? Well, maybe if they watch all those teacher movies where there are magically 8 kids and only one class for Hillary Swank to save…

Maureen, you know better so don’t perpetuate a disconnected, unrealistic image of the classroom teacher. That “great teacher” teaches far more than your 25 super lucky students.

Reality: 30(ish) kids and 7 periods of class = 210 students.

Ron F.

April 20th, 2012
12:02 pm

Eric: for the right person, it’s also the ideal way to learn. There are a number of kids who learn best at their own rate and independently, so they would do well. I’d like to see us be able to offer coursework to those who truly CAN do it. I loved my online graduate courses- I had two kids in elementary school, so it fit my schedule WAY better. I could see some of our young mothers or sick children who have to miss a good number of days being able to keep up with coursework. It has its applications, in the right place.

A reader

April 20th, 2012
12:23 pm

While I think Manny T. has some very good points, there is one I need to correct. Digital or e-books are not necessarily cheaper and the industry is working very hard to prevent discounts to schools or libraries. Many publishers already have measures in place to ensure that a library would have to repurchase an e-book after it has been read x times. While we as consumers may think schools automatically get a discount (or should), there is actually very little incentive for a company to offer discounts to schools when schools are their only customers and also one of a very limited pool that offers that product.

high school teacher

April 20th, 2012
12:33 pm

tchr,

Teachers do teach around 25 students at one time. I think the point of this suggestion is to say that teachers could quadruple their load from 25 students per class to 125 students per class. Whew! That’s a lot of essays to grade…

MannyT

April 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

@A reader
I understand that textbook publishers will push hard to maintain their profitable sacred cows, but school systems need to push back. We must differentiate between electronic book rental and owning book license. School systems should own licenses, so they don’t have regular repurchases. Even without a discounted price, you won’t have wear & tear on a license. Cost savings for less physical book management & movement should be real.

The volume purchases of school districts are more likely to put pressure on textbook makers to yield. There is book adoption competition every year. Put the license requirement in the bid. No bids from any major textbook company leads to collusion & antitrust lawsuits.

If politicians want to push schools to have online education options, then they need to support the economically prudent applications of technology. In the short term, I’d use the provision in state DOE faqs to put pressure on textbook companies. (Cooperate or we’ll work around the entire hardcopy textbook option. Most teachers use many non textbook resources to teach already.)

Q–May school systems use their textbook/learning resources allotments to purchase instructional items that do not relate to the subject areas that are up for adoption?

A–School systems may use textbook/learning resources funds to purchase items that are related to the subject area or areas that are up for adoption as long as the materials are to be used for instruction. These funds may not be used to pay for stipends or professional learning.

Source Georgia Learning Resources/Textbook Program Frequently Asked Questions

Prof

April 20th, 2012
12:55 pm

Just one question for those considering mandatory online classes for either college OR high school students: are you considering the needs of students with disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to use computers? Those with vision impairment, or paralysis that prevents use of the mouse, or who are in a wheelchair, for example?

In other words, how will you make it ADA-compliant, as federal law requires?

TimeOut

April 20th, 2012
12:56 pm

MannyT

April 20th, 2012
1:07 pm

The online learning options are here to stay. The question is how to best use online learning within your K-12 system. It may have started with the online, for profit colleges, but the traditional universities are validating that online learning is here to stay.

Current examples
What is MITx?
and
Online Education Startup Coursera Lands $16M

School districts must decide which models work best with their student population. I can see it working in high schools more easily than middle schools. I’d limit it to experiential learning in elementary schools(virtual field trips, occasional interactions with others such as virtual career day, buddy class activity in another location, etc.)

I think the elementary schoolers need to learn how to interact with others in person much more than developing their online skills. If middle schoolers are exposed to one or two highly structured, tightly controlled online courses, it may help them to be better online learners by the time they get to high school. Kids should learn how to learn online instead of tossing the baby birds out of a digital nest without training.

Solutions

April 20th, 2012
1:28 pm

Google offers excellent e-textbooks absolutely free, so I suggest that a transition be made from paper text books to electronic books. The cost of replacing just one textbook will pay for the lowest cost kindle, two text books will cover the cost of the kindle fire, which will play the khanacademy videos. Why waste money enriching textbook publishers when free ebooks are available? The McGuffy readers are available free from both google and amazon.

MiltonMan

April 20th, 2012
1:29 pm

“There is a lot of hope and a lot of hype. We have yet to see too many programs in practice live up to their promise,’’

Good God those “experts” in the education field are truly clueless. Like the current education system is living up to its promises??? Couple co-workers are enrolled in Master level programs at GT, UNC & Duke – all online.

MannyT

April 20th, 2012
1:35 pm

@Prof
If the school systems are willing to pay for it, assistive/adaptive technology that can be used in computer learning has been around at least since the 1990s to help special needs students. I suspect it has improved since then as hardware costs have dropped. In some ways online classes might make the integration of special needs students into mainstream classes easier (Working at your own pace between classes, lessons online to be rerun as you need them.)

Article Technology — The Great Equalizer from the Council for Exceptional Children

It’s not perfect, but technology does provide some additional options.

On the leading edge of what can be, I think about the tools that are developed for Stephen Hawking.

3schoolkids

April 20th, 2012
1:52 pm

My parent experience has been that online learning format in the GA Virtual School (high school classes) and GA Cyber Academy (2nd grader) were not effective for my learners-it doesn’t mean it’s not effective for others. My high schooler commented that she missed the interaction with peers and her teachers (she did better in a classroom than online). It did provide her a much needed alternative when she physically could not be in a classroom though. For my 2nd grader, it was too much time on the computer (doing the lessons, elluminate sessions, finish the assessments and then doing time in study island). He is doing better this year with a hybrid (combination of reading/lessons with mom, software/online providers for review and educational games, khan academy and books/workbooks with all assessments done on paper at his pace). I do agree internet access should be limited even at the high school level, except in the case of gathering research for papers/projects.

Political Mongrel

April 20th, 2012
2:34 pm

One thing I learned about online classes years ago: some of them are taught by excellent teachers and are run brilliantly. Unfortunately, some of them are an inch wide and an inch deep. They offer no depth, at best poor explanations, and cover very limited materials. They can fall prey to the same problems that any classroom can.

Beverly Fraud

April 20th, 2012
3:17 pm

Well, why not just get one Super Duper SuperDuperMan to teach 30,000,000 kids at once? Ok four of them; one for each time zone.

Michelle Rhee and Beverly Hall are available, and we know how SuperDuper Super Duper Duper they were.

Surely we can find two more in all of America.

MannyT

April 20th, 2012
3:29 pm

@Beverly Fraud
They identified a Super Duper SuperDuperMan. In his 1st year teaching the overall test scores for his 30,000,000 students was average. He was late with his paperwork and got bad reviews from the 99% of principals that had trouble sitting in his classroom to evaluate him. The parents complained that he was never at open houses, PTA meetings, etc.

His contract was not renewed. I think he ultimately went to work at the Khan Academy ;-)

hryder

April 20th, 2012
3:33 pm

The major problem that exists is that there needs to be minimal literacy in the student population enabling them to use the digital tools. The other thing is that the majorityof people who currently employ the digital tools are socially lacking interpersonal skills and continue to become more and more isolated physically from other humans. No different that automobile driving skills. Those with high hand eye foot skills and knowledge of road rules have few problems. As hand eye foot skills decrease towards almost none greater problems occur with such drivers, including causing their own death or even worse the death of others. Unless influencing people realize that people are not created equal and that each person’s brain places limitations on how, what, and the time necessary to learn and that many brains cannot ever grasp certain information and or skills.

Beverly Fraud

April 20th, 2012
3:36 pm

Well MannyT if he had only made the instruction RIGOROUS, with RIGOROSITY!

But come to think of it, if digital technology can reach ALL students at ALL levels, why not just send the teachers for some digital training and presto! 3 million teachers, ALL exceptional!

Unless of course, we want to make the RIDICULOUS claim that student ability and student MOTIVATION have something to do with learning.

EduKtr

April 20th, 2012
4:14 pm

As I’ve mentioned in past discussions, brick-and-mortar schools and classroom seat time are going to be less central to K-12 education in the future.

Allowing students more options in learning will be key—along with greater use of testing to certify mastery. Microsoft’s skills certification tests are a good model.

Opposed to such innovation will be the usual forces with vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Plus those who simply can’t imagine a future different from the past, no matter how deficient that past is in meeting the needs of a new global economy.

The NEA and other teachers’ unions won’t be on board with this. With them it’s always about dues revenues. But as Steve Jobs says (p.544) in the recent best-selling biography—”Until the teachers’ unions are broken, there is almost no hope for education reform.”

EduKtr

April 20th, 2012
4:29 pm

And then there’s the Special Education boondoggle. Powerful special interests have turned the ADA into a personal cash-cow draining education budgets without having discernible effects on test scores.

A future Congress should overturn the ADA and go back to the drawing board.

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
4:44 pm

EduKtr-what makes you think Microsoft or IBM or Intel or Apple or SACS and Advanced or Cisco just to name a few specifically on the digital bandwagon do not qualify as vested interests?

This is classic rent-seeking behavior on their part. Perfectly rational but it is up to govt officials and taxpayers to recognize the relationships for what they are. Instead we get self-interested recommendations to get a lucrative contract and then the same companies get cited as proof that something is needed because “industry” says they need it.

Like the integrated math Microsoft and especially IBM both pushed. Less innovation in technology makes their current products and their extensive stable of technology patents worth more.

Do you mean IDEA instead of ADA?

EduKtr

April 20th, 2012
5:10 pm

A good argument, Attentive Parent—for tuition vouchers.

Ultimately it is parents who are best situated to decide who best serves their children’s needs. But the current regime in education empowers the education establishment rather than parents. Perhaps a member of the modern day Ferriers Union (the NEA) will now butt in to defend the failed status quo?

3schoolkids

April 20th, 2012
6:01 pm

@EduKtr: Please enlighten us, just who are the “powerful special interests” in the “special education boondoggle” and how have they managed to “turn the ADA into a personal cash cow”?

Attentive Parent

April 20th, 2012
6:10 pm

EduKtr-I think when the full story comes out we will have to go to something along the lines of money following the child, almost no parents, however disinterested or inattentive, would allow their children to be subjected to what is being planned in the name of Common Core.

My real concern is that Georgia has such a history of implementing any ed idea that will bring in additional revenue to state or selected district or university coffers that we will damage our economy substantially as the story of what we have agreed to pilot comes out.

If the story gets sat on now though to avoid the bad publicity, the full implementation will proceed and the economic fallout later will be far worse.

I think fool soon is better than long term economic pariah but I remain genuinely horrified by what is going on. I think the Georgia legislature doesn’t read what it passes. This state has treated education as a reason for raising revenue to employ adults for too long. I have begun to think of this state as the Gulag of Georgia because of what certain adults are willing to do to students for their own personal gain.

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
6:12 pm

Someone heard IDEA on talk radio and mistakenly thought he said ADA :P

teacher&mom

April 20th, 2012
6:17 pm

@Attentive Parent: When asked why he voted yes for the charter amendment bill, my representative said the bill was only about vouchers and would never take away from local control.

He is either clueless,a liar, or both. Either way…he lost my vote.

Maureen Downey

April 20th, 2012
6:36 pm

tchr, I meant per class — the average class size nationwide is 23 kids — but I think your point is valid so I rewrote.
Maureen

Prof

April 20th, 2012
7:40 pm

@ EduKtr, April 20, 4:29 pm: “A future Congress should overturn the ADA and go back to the drawing board.”

Not likely. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress in 1990, and recently expanded considerably by the ADA-Amendments Act of 2008 that changed the definition of “disability” and accommodations that must be made. That was why I asked my earlier question at 12:59 pm about making online education ADA-compliant.

EduKtr

April 20th, 2012
8:03 pm

Do I think the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will be overthrown? I think our nation’s creditors, like those of today’s Greece, Portugal, Spain and soon France will help us understand that endless expenditures—accommodating a multitude of special interests—is economically unsustainable.

No matter how much additional paper money we attempt to print.

Especially as we don’t have the luxury of ignoring the national defense, as has much of Western Europe since WWII.

EduKtr

April 20th, 2012
8:12 pm

And I’m sure Greece had its teachers’ (and other public sector) unions which, like our National Education Association, bought the silence of legislators there and thus helped bring their nation to near bankruptcy.

Parents first, kids maybe later.

April 20th, 2012
8:38 pm

They should most definitely walk. They should also include the parents. I’m aghast by the lack of ability that many accomplished parents display when it comes to helping their children. I’ve seen kids struggle with Math I, only to realize that they don’t even have access to the EOCT study guide. I struggle to understand why the child wasn’t armed with the guide BEFORE the beginning of the school year. What worries me most is the fact that neither parent nor child thought to do an internet search for help, or even just check out the GPS website.

My child’s school has remedial math classes for parents. All delivered online. If they didn’t get it the first time (face to face), and haven’t gotten it this time (reading the book), I’m not sure that they’ll get it now. However, these parents who own up to their weaknesses and seek help by attending the classes are better than the alternative.

The delivery of information online is a viable alternative. I think the place to direct much of the instruction is to those who are not in the middle. The child who needs extra practice or wants to go ahead should have tools available to them.

As for those who say the students can’t handle it, as evidenced by the failures of those who dabble in GA Virtual School courses, I’d like to suggest that they’ve just identified an area of weakness for those students. Presumably they are in college prep courses, actually ignore that, even if they aren’t, whatever their future aspirations being able to complete a task on time, with minimal supervision is a life skill worth aiming toward.

Mitch

April 20th, 2012
9:47 pm

We are already tryng to cram too much into those little brains and we are coming out with young men and women who cannot find their way to the bathroom. Most computer programs are so simple that you can learn them in one day or less. Why mess someones mind with trivia.

bootney farnsworth

April 20th, 2012
10:33 pm

here’s the problem with going digital in a nutshell…

school administrators are incapable of dealing rationally with it.
we’ve been doing online at GPC for forever, and the same issues
re-occur.

1-online requires a major committment to infastructure and tech savvy
people to run it. admin types see dollar signs of increased enroll-ment and little else.

2-good online instructors are innovative and ahead of the curve.
admin types hate innovation unless approved in advance/triplicate/ approved by six different committees.

3-admin types continue to refuse to acknowledge succesful on line learners remain the exception, not the rule.

4-the data isn’t fully in concerning the long term effectiveness of
on line. emphasis, long term.

5-admin types will use on line as a way to cut costs (re: free up
money for their latest social engineering projects), with little to
no regard to the impact on shifting said money and responsiblity around.

6-worst of all: if you really want to reach the on line population, faculty have to be free to make decisions admin may not have approved
or even considered.

My goodness...

April 20th, 2012
11:05 pm

Simple question to the calvary of naysayers – have you ever been a part of an online classroom? When you all talk about how the human element would be removed it shows your ignorance.

One irony in this discussion that is hilarious to me is how there is an aversion to “unproven methods.” Here’s a though to consider from the other end: The only thing that has been proven in education the last 30 years is that throwing money to “reform” outdated system doesn’t work. Even our good schools stink and in your hearts you all know it. When we celebrate schools that don’t graduate 1 out of 5 kids, something is terribly wrong.

I encourage you all to get with the program and start offering solutions. While not perfect for every kid, online learning, blended learning, etc. is SOMETHING. Young parents like myself (your customers, as a reminder) are getting a little sick and tired of the same old excuses. To teachers especially, we all love and admire the work you are doing, but please use your energies to fight attempts at reform and force your “associations” to offer something other than “give us more money” – we’ll support you! The public is quietly losing patience and tuning out teachers and teacher groups because of the constant non-productive whining.

Truth in Modertion

April 21st, 2012
12:59 am

Home schoolers do it best. Today’s home schooling is more accurately described as “free market education.” Most home schoolers use a combination of online classes (interactive and “sage on the stage” classroom instruction) as well as tutored home school classes. Most powerfully, when mom and child are actively discussing subject matter, “Google University” can be employed on the spot to find video, photos or print articles directly related to the topic at hand. This is a very powerful use of the technology. I use this method quite frequently. Also, the students get to go to various sites during the week for different enrichment classes and sports. This way, they get to know other home schoolers and gain experience learning in a traditional classroom setting. Also, many parents make travel/vacation plans based on topics being studied. All of this FOR A FRACTION of the cost of a public or private school education. Many middle class minority families are joining the ranks of home schoolers….and loving it! Home schoolers are a very welcoming and supportive group.

ScienceTeacher671

April 21st, 2012
5:21 am

@ Truth in Moderation: All of this FOR A FRACTION of the cost of a public or private school education.

Only if you consider the parent’s time worth nothing. To honestly get a price value of that education, at the very least you’d have to begin with considering what the parent could be making in a full time job, or what it would cost to hire someone to do what the parent is doing.

Attentive Parent

April 21st, 2012
9:01 am

My goodness-education in the US doesn’t work because it was designed not to work.

The course of study in far too many ed schools is to teach either utter nonsense or political theories masquerading as learning theories and so-called best practices.

Having deliberately wrecked the vehicle of knowledge transmission and reading and math and writing instruction, the ed cartel wants to use the disaster it consciously and expensively created as the excuse for rejecting the “old model”.

It rejected the old model decades ago. It just didn’t tell the students or parents or taxpayers or politicians because it didn’t want to lose access to all that money.

You find all this hilarious do you? How disdainful you are.

Don H.

April 21st, 2012
9:57 am

@MyGoodness: Just don’t call the National Education Association a union. Local GAE/NEA unionists are touchy about the term.

Though their parent union isn’t shy about its identity. Any reader who googles “NEA” and “union” will find the National Education Association website page on which they declare themselves to be “the largest union in the United States.”

So they’re obviously not confused about it.

And to the question at hand, innovation, Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed public sector unions for a sound reason: there’s no one to stand up to their characteristic rapaciousness. He might have included their opposition to any and all reform. In the private sector, stockholders and company directors serve as effective counterbalances to union greed and inertia. Legislators, unfortunately, can be easily intimidated or bought with campaign contributions.

A search on “NEA” and “donations” will bring up reference websites which track political donations reported by the union to government regulatory agencies. Virtually all the NEA’s political money goes to compliant Democrat candidates and liberal causes. And that’s merely what the union chooses to officially report. All Georgia Association of Educators members belong to the NEA ($168 extra yearly).

So integrating more online instruction at the possible cost of classroom jobs—isn’t likely to happen in the moribund public school system without union opposition.

ref: http://www.nea.org/home/18469.htm
ref: http://goo.gl/rtJIZ
ref: http://goo.gl/bNdPt

Again with the Unions?

April 21st, 2012
11:11 am

Don H. – I did a little “Google University” research (lol on the poster that called it that), and I found that according to the GAE site, it claims 42,000 members. According to about.com’s Georgia’s educational profile, there are about 118, 839 teachers. That means 65% – more than half – of all Georgia teachers DON’T belong to a “union.”

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 21st, 2012
1:43 pm

@Don H “Legislators, unfortunately, can be easily intimidated or bought with campaign contributions.”

I agree with you here…however, the groups who have “intimidated or bought” our Georgia legislators seem more bent on corporate control of education than any sort of union based control.

Don H.

April 21st, 2012
1:57 pm

@ilove/hate teaching: So join with those many parents who insisted on more choices—in the recent legislature vote regarding state-approved charter schools.

When parents are free to determine what will likely work best for their own kids … you’ll have every chance to present your case and win their trust.

And you’ll always be able to remind unhappy parents of their other schooling options.

Ole Guy

April 21st, 2012
2:42 pm

We all want only the best of everything…best cars, best houses, best this, best that, and, of course, the best teachers. REALITY FLASH! We can’t always have what we want. That car salesman may not be the best in the lot, ole doc may or may not be the best the AMA has to offer…very few teacher actuallt walk on water, but ALL teachers, by virtue of their credential, want to teach. GIVE THEM THE GD CHANCE…they’re certainly not all perfect, in fact, I seriously doubt any of them can lay claim to perfection. However, they can probably all claim to want whats best for your GD kids. All you have to do is empower these people, who stand in front of a classroom of screaming undisciplined Indians who probably have never known a day of consequence (thanks to the GD parents who are too afraid of their own damn kids…that they probably won’t like them if they look at em crosseyed) to do their GD jobs without the whole damn world doing it for them.

[...] tandem with my earlier blog on the Fordham panel on digital learning, I want to direct you to a blog from Will Richardson, a former public school [...]

FormerHSteacher

April 24th, 2012
11:43 am

I am a former high school teacher and my first thought was about the prevalence of cheating. While it is fairly easy to cheat in traditional classroom models it is incredibly easy to cheat in online courses. I know, I witnessed quite a bit of cheating in some of the graduate classes I took online. Additionally, one of the biggest challenges I encountered while as a classroom teacher was widespread cheating and the apparent belief among students that it was acceptable behavior as long as it produced a good grade. I found evidence of simply cutting and pasting from the internet in approximately 2/3 of research papers I received even when focused instruction was given ahead of time that outlined the requirements, explained plagiarism, and gave very detailed description of the consequences of such. Students did not seem motivated to actually ‘learn’ or gain new understanding of concepts or information – rather they were motivated to “pass” a course. It did not seem to matter whether they actually learned anything in the process or not.
So with that in mind, I wonder how much actual learning might occur should the format for education become more online.

hmm

April 24th, 2012
7:05 pm

maybe we need to slow down a bit before we lose ourselves.

Eric

April 25th, 2012
6:55 pm

@Maureen, I’m not sure how being exposed to technology leads to a decrease (or increase) in deviant behavior? But this blog is about learning in the classroom vs. online (at home). I’m not saying for kids to have no exposure, since technology is already in the classroom. I’m saying let’s use what we’ve got, which is working very well with the teacher and 25 students in a classroom. I seriously question the DOE study you cite. For example, in math, it has been shown that modeling and guided practice by teacher, using formative assessment, is superior to kids scrolling through a tutorial or unit online with no human intervention.

Eric

April 26th, 2012
5:26 pm

@hmm – I do agree. Our society has become too fast-paced to make any sense of the world or bring joy to life. Oh sure, we can all go online and totally disconnect from any human connection if we decided to. We can all increase our test scores and cram all the knowledge in our brains. We can hold each other accountable. That is the direction of education and our society. And for what? Does more knowledge lead to wisdom and happiness? Socrates, Aristotle and others would say not at all.

BehindEnemyLines

July 5th, 2012
4:09 pm

Walk or run? I’m going with “stride purposefully” as the correct answer :)